Anything Can Happen: Lessons Learned from New York – New Jersey Too! (Part 2 of 3)

Rockefellar CenterAh, New York City – the center of the universe. I had always dreamed of coming to this city, and December of last year I finally did. (Thank you, work, for sending me!) I loved it so much, I just couldn’t stay away!

So 3 months later I was back. This time my trip was personal and was centered around volunteering for a self-development seminar and my husband’s “Mastermind” group. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a few epiphanies while I was there. From my time in New Jersey, I learned that now is the time to invest in yourself to prepare for the upcoming spring.

What was my lesson from New York? Firstly, I learned that New York shopping is cheaper than Washington shopping (no sales tax on clothing! YES!!!). Secondly, I learned a very important lesson from the lovely, the magical, the “Practically Perfect in Every Way” Mary Poppins.

Anything Can Happen…If You Let It
The drive from Jersey City to New York City was perfect. Just as we emerged from the Holland Tunnel and entered the glorious bustling city, the satellite radio kicked in on cue and provided us with the perfect Broadway soundtrack to our drive up the Manhattan Island. I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

After brunch with our friends in the Village, we decided to catch an evening Broadway show. We checked into our hotel smack dab in the middle of Times Square and scooted on over to the TKTS booth. Because it was so late in the day by the time we got there, it was slim pickin’s, so we decided to go with the peppy Disney musical, Mary Poppins.

I don’t know about my husband, but I was excited to “Go Fly a Kite” and get “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” stuck in my head. It was a great, upbeat show, and stuck in the middle of all the sugary, splendid musical goodness was a song that packed a great message: “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”

The basic premise of the song is that anything is possible if you are open to it, if you believe that it can happen, and if you’re willing to reach for your dreams. Of course this has some larger implications, but I immediately thought, this could really apply to health and fitness.

Many times I’ve seen people start new fitness programs, almost asking not to succeed. They fork over the big bucks for a program or a personal trainer, but they immediately start throwing up objections like, “That won’t work for me. I’ve tried interval training, and I know it won’t work.” Or they say, “I’ve tried diet after diet, and they never work.” So they go into the program with an attitude that, just like every other fitness and nutrition program they’ve tried, it won’t work.

To these people I ask, “When will you let it work for you?”

The first step in achieving your dreams is to believe that achieving them is possible. Rather, take that one step further and know that you’ll achieve them. If you don’t believe that something will work, it most likely won’t.

It’s almost as if these people want to prove to the universe that nothing can help them, so they can stop trying and say, “There’s nothing I can do about my situation!” So they no longer have to point the finger at themselves and instead place blame on external circumstances as to why they haven’t obtained the body and level of fitness they desire.

Anything can happen if you’re open to it, if you let it. Clear the path to allow your dreams to come to you. Assuming that “it probably won’t work” is only building up a dam that blocks them from flowing to you.

After 3 days of running around the city, exploring all of downtown, uptown, and every town in between by foot – my feet were killing me! – we headed back to New Jersey for the next adventure…

I leave you with the lyrics to Mary Poppin’s song. Remember, anything can happen if you let it.

Anything Can Happen

Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn’t have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen, it’s a marvel
You can be a butterfly or just stay larval
Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic
Take some sound advice and don’t forget it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
You won’t know a challenge until you’ve met it
No one does it for you
No one but yourself
Vacillating violets get left up on the shelf

Anything can happen, just imagine
That should be epitaph
I wear the badge in
Honor of the world’s free thinkers
Those who see beyond their blinkers
Jelly isn’t jelly until you set it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
What good is a whistle unless you whet it
Broaden your horizons, open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours.

Anything can happen
Things you thought impossible
Will soon seem certain
Though at first it may sound clownish
See the world more upside-downish
Turn it on its head and pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

Anything can happen if you let it
Life is out there waiting so go and get it
Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff
Once you’ve started living life you just can’t get enough

Anything can happen, it’s official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won’t regret it

Anything can happen
(Anything can happen)
Anything can happen
If you let it.

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The 4-Year-Old Burger: What on Earth Have We Been Eating?

Some of my fondest memories growing up are of my weekend trips with my dad to McDonald’s. I used to order a Happy Meal with a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. I think I still have some of the nifty Fraggle Rock toys stowed away somewhere.

McDonalds Fraggle Cars

As I got older, I branched out to chicken fajitas, 20-piece chicken McNuggets, and even an occasional Big Mac. I always ordered fries however, as I proudly proclaimed that McDonald’s fries were my french fries of choice.

My “health makeover” – as I’ve just now decided to term my personal relevation and conversion to a healthier lifestyle of physical activity, spiritual connection, and whole, balanced nutrition – has since squelched this debauchery. But as I pass the Golden Arches, I still occasionally feel like I’m six years old, and I’m on my way to an afternoon of Happy Meals and playtime.

Since my health makeover, I’m much more aware of the fats and artificial ingredients that fast food, especially McDonald’s food, is loaded with. But I didn’t get the extent of it until I watched this video from diet.com:

It can’t be real food.

In response to accusations like this, McDonald’s has recently proudly proclaimed that they now “use 100% beef in every burger.”

My question is: What the &#!* was I eating in the first place?

No wonder my generation is so sick and obese.

Their website says, “We use 100% beef in every burger,” which has a whole different meaning than saying, “We use only 100% beef in our burgers” or “Our burgers are 100% beef.” My suspicion is that fillers and extenders are added to the 100% beef that cause the kind of “burger immortality” portrayed in this video.

And we’re feeding this stuff to our kids? Hm, maybe eating immortal burgers will make me and my kids immortal! eating fat, filler, and preservative-laden food isn’t good for us.

My response is: No duh.

By the way, I made an awesome power dinner tonight: grilled, all-natural grass-fed buffalo (from Fred Meyer, $6 for .94lbs), organic roasted sweet potatoes (from Whole Foods, $3 for 1.5lbs), and steamed kale (from Fred Meyer, less than $1 for 1 bunch).

The total cost per person? About $5. Time to cook? Only 30 minutes.

For less than the cost of a McDonald’s value meal, I had a healthy, homecooked meal. Yes, it took me 15 minutes longer than it would have taken me to get in the car and get through the drive-thru. Is 15 minutes of my time a price worthy to pay for my health?

My answer is: Abso-frickin’-lutely.

Everyone Makes A Mistake Every Now and Then

It happens all the time – newspapers post corrections to stories that contained an error in a previous edition.  Granted, it’s usually in very small print on the back page, in the bottom left-hand corner where no one ever looks.  I’ll be (wo)man enough to call out my error in broad daylight. 

I was at the gym again, and decided that because of the higher reps in today’s workout, I could use the 24-pound Power Blocks in the women’s fitness area.  I reserve myself a bench, grab the Power Blocks, and start my front squats.  Around the 5th rep, something new about two feet to the left of the dumbell rack catches my eye. 

What is that I see?  Another set of Power Blocks?

Oh it is, isn’t it?  I finish my set, walk over to them, and discover that my hunch is correct – they’re 60-pound Power Blocks.

Oooh, I feel so sheepish. 

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photo credit: chalkie_colour_circles

 Alas, I stand corrected and hereby rescind the remarks I made on my last post.  So I didn’t notice those nifty new Power Blocks yesterday.  I must have been too engrossed in the dramatic episode I concocted in my head to even notice. 

<Insert unnamed health club here>, as well as that nice, young trainer behind the fitness desk, deserve my heartfelt apologies.  They haven’t turned their backs on their duty to enable women to lift heavier weights.

Brownie points have officially been earned back.

Do What You Gotta Do…Then Make It Work for You

My last entry got me thinking more about “cheating.” Why am I so concerned about “cheating”? Some of you might be thinking, “That’s no way to live – always having to stop yourself from eating something you enjoy.” That reminded me of a conversation I recently had with one of my good friends who is currently on a mission to lose some weight.

My friend is a very social individual. One night she’s out with one friend, and the next night she’s out with another. The common factor is a bottle of wine and dinner at some fancy restaurant. Besides the fact that she was spending WAY too much money on eating out, she was not eating very healthy, which didn’t help her at all when it came to her fitness goals.

She felt that there was no way her lifestyle and social calendar could uphold any type of “diet”, and she didn’t think that depriving herself from eating the food she enjoys was any way to live.

This is where we get into the whole “diet” vs. “lifestyle change” issue. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say it: “Diets don’t work. Lifestyle changes do.” Which is easier to do? Change how you eat for a month, or change how you eat for the rest of your life? I put my money on #1. The problem is, any results you saw from that diet will soon disappear, and you’ll be left at square one.

So I believe that to have any kind of lasting results, you must change your eating habits, or your lifestyle with regards to food and nutrition. However, what kind of lifestyle do you want to live? What is acceptable to you?

You’ve heard me talk about the 90% rule. Allow yourself a “cheat meal” only 10% of the time. Seems kind of strict, doesn’t it? Who wants to keep count of all their meals and how many of them were “compliant”? And who wants to wants to keep track of all the “compliance” rules?

This is where I blur the lines between a “diet” and a “lifestyle change.” I think if you’re going for a specific goal – to lose X pounds, to decrease bodyfat by X%, to fit into your old cocktail dress in time for your girlfriend’s wedding – you have to play full on. If you want more than snail-paced progress, you have to bear down, make sacrifices, and adhere to your “compliance rules”. You need to prioritize and say for example, “Right now this goal is more important than going out to dinner with my friends every night.” Do what you gotta do.

Once you obtain your goal, then if you want to maintain those results you have to take what you did and make it work for you in the long term. Go into maintenance mode, so to say. So maybe that means you don’t count your calories anymore, or you allow yourself starchy carbs even though you haven’t worked out. Or maybe you allow yourself a moderate “cheat meal” more than 10% of the time.

But you won’t go back to eating creamy pasta every night, making a run to the golden arches for lunch every other day, or eating a chocolate lava cake for dessert every single weekend. You have new habits and operate under new knowledge, so you can’t go back. “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.” — Oliver Wendall Holmes

What I’m saying is, do what needs to be done to get to your goal. Once you get there, it’s okay to take it back a notch or two. Understand, however there are consequences. You might experience a slight decrease in energy, you might not feel as lean or rock hard. You might even gain a little bit of bodyfat back. But it’s all about tradeoffs. To enjoy life, if you truly feel you need to take it back a notch, then I propose you do it. Make it work for you. But keep in mind the consequences and what consequences are really, truly worth it to you. I highly doubt after accomplishing your health and fitness goal, you’ll think going back to your original unhealthy ways would be worth it. At least, I hope not.

So yes, while I was trying to achieve my goals, I was religious about the 90% rule. I logged my food, I watched my calories, I made sure I always ate a protein with a fibrous carb at every “eating opportunity.” Now that I’ve gotten there, I don’t pay as close attention, but I am ALWAYS cognizant of what I’m putting into my body and how it’s affecting me. I still make healthy choices, but I don’t freak out if I occasionally eat a snack without a source of lean protein. And I occasionally allow myself the pleasure of a warm, chocolate lava cake.

So what happened to my friend? She made a sacrifice, stopped eating out every night, and limits herself to one glass of wine every other week. She logs her food, eats plenty of vegetables and lean protein, and limits her sugar intake. She’s well on her way to her fitness goals. But once she gets there, I have a strong feeling she’ll stop logging her food and she’ll probably drink more than one glass of wine every other week. And that’s fine because to her, it’s worth it. (What is worth it, and if it’s truly worth it is another conversation.)

You know yourself better than anyone else. You know what’s important to you. Live life to the fullest. To you, if that means occasionally enjoying a bottle of wine with an old friend, more power to you.

Like/dislike what you read? Can you relate? Have a reaction? Add a comment!

Call me a skinny minnie? Oh no you di’int!

I remember when I was in high school, when I would lie down I thought it was really cool that my stomach would sink down and my ribs and hip bones would protrude from my skin.

Now that I think about that, it actually sounds kind of disgusting.  Who wants to be a “skinny minnie,” as many have dubbed me?

I get that an awful lot – “why do you work out?  You’re already a ‘skinny minnie!'”

First of all, I don’t want to be a skinny minnie.  And second of all, even if people didn’t think I look like a skinny minnie, that isn’t why I’d be working out!

Yes, I’ll admit that one of my reasons for working out and eating consciously is to improve my body composition.  (i.e. So I can rock a bikini or skin tight dress)  What woman doesn’t want to look good in what she wears?

But improved body composition does NOT mean being skinny!  When you say skinny, images of Mary Kate & Ashley, Nicole Ritchie, and Twiggy run through my head.  Ew.  I don’t want to look like a drug addict.  That is NOT the goal.

Hm…Jessica Biel maybe, and even Britney (during her sultry “I’m a Slave for You” days) maybe.  I wouldn’t mind looking like them.  Solid, fit, and like they could probably kick your ass.

Actually, I take that back.  I don’t want to look like them.  I want to look like me.  But a solid, fit, I-could-kick-your-ass version of me.  It’s ridiculous to want to look like this actress or that super-model.  We all have different genetics, different body compositions.  It is probably genetically impossible for my butt to look as good as Jessica Biel’s.

But I can admire their level of physical fitness and aspire to achieve my own pinnacle of physical fitness and health.

Anyway, body composition and overall health – that is what it’s about.  In the words of James Ray, “Let health be the goal, and let fitness be the by-product.”  Just try to get and stay healthy and happy, and it’ll manifest itself in your physical appearance.

When you start eating healthier and become more physically active, your body can’t help but conform.  Eating right, working out, and other healthy habits – getting enough sleep, minimizing stress etc. – shouldn’t make you look like an Oleson twin.

Skinny minnie?  Not me, thank you very much.